Define Your Customers Journey

The output of the customer journey mapping process is the map itself – a practical and visual document that should be able to communicate a number of things.

These include:

  • The steps the customer takes, their expectations, concerns and state of mind and the outcome they are seeking at each stage.
  • What success looks like from their perspective and from the organizations.
  • What the organization can influence and how their policies and processes affect customer experience, engagement and value.
  • Moments of truth – the points in a journey that define the overall experience; positive and negative:
    o  The moments that present an opportunity to delight the customer.
    o  The things the customer expects and does not notice unless they are absent.  These are the hygiene factors, or the opportunities to dismay.
  • What the organization needs to do to deliver the desired outcomes.

A good journey map should be something the organization could share, without embarrassment, with a customer. It should be possible to hand it to those responsible for delivery of the journey and have them recognize the steps and be immediately clear what is expected of them and why.

However, there is no standard blueprint for a customer journey map. If you want to build one utilizing high-quality design principles, that’s fine. If you’d prefer to use smiley faces, that too is fine. It can be a work of art or something fairly rudimentary.

But beyond the cosmetics of the map, there are various ingredients that good quality maps will possess.

The elements of a customer journey map

Customer journey maps (as used by front-office employees) in their simplest form should contain the following elements:

  1. Context or stakeholder map. We list all stakeholders and we order the hierarchy in circles of influences around the center, where you are. When working with customers you’ll have the customer in the center. Describe all relationships on the map by answering the question: what do we do for them; what do they do for us? This map shows you the landscape or force field you are dealing with. And you can discuss how this influences the quality of your work and how a customer benefits or suffers from it.
  2. Persona. We need a rich customer profile or persona. Describe his/her personal and business situation now (present situation) and in the future (ambitions).
  3. Outcomes. A description of his/ her desired outcome – what is he/she trying to achieve?
  4. Customer journey. We list all actions (as far as possible) the customer has to take to reach the outcome (placed in a horizontal line). Don’t start listing actions when the customer uses your service the first time. Start before the moment he/she decided to use your product or service. This way we visualize behavioral patterns.
  5. Touch-points. Underneath every action we list all channels and touch-points services the customer encounter. Not just yours! This way you’ll discover the landscape you are in form the customer’s perception.
  6. Moments of truth. Then we identify the moments the customer encounters your touch-points and channels. We start focus on those (you can move them down a bit). Identify the most important ‘moments of truth’.
  7. Service delivery. Underneath every touch point, we write down who delivers the service. Who is directly responsible for it (e.g. front office personal)?
  8. Emotional journey. Then give every vertical line a grade for the experience (Actions -> touch point -> who delivers the service -> grade). Don’t grade the functionality, grade the work. For the emotion, how do you think the customer felt at that moment? Use a scale from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the better the experience. This can be visualized (e.g. by a line going up and down), and is very effective as a conversation starter. It can often be a real eye-opener.
  9. Blueprint. Now, to make a long story a bit shorter, we can go on listing the organization underneath, writing down who supports the people delivering the service (back-office), and in turn who influences the back office (we link back to the stakeholders map), until we have a complete organizational blueprint, a complete picture of the working of an organization and emotional journey, from the outside in.
  10. Improve and innovate. Use creative, brainstorming and any other ideation techniques for the service opportunities you identified (low grades) and/or design complete new and ideal journeys or services. This usually is the moment people have the most fun. I have been surprised many times by the talent and eagerness of people to engage in this creative process. People are usual a lot more creative than you think. We just need to put them in the right situation and mood.

With the ingredients of a basic map in mind, how can organizations take a systematic approach to building a map? Here is a rundown of the tasks you need to undertake as part of a typical map building process.

Define your objectives

Identify what it is that you want to accomplish – for instance, do you want to fix current problems or build a new experience? Be clear on what you want to accomplish. Customer journey maps are excellent at showing the gaps between customer expectations and perceptions of the actual experience at key steps along the journey. They also help identify improvement opportunities and communicate the ‘why’ and ‘how’ with employees across channels, silos and functions. In journey mapping, as in so many things, beginning with the end in mind will define the path for getting there. So know what you want and keep your strategic goals in the forefront to guide you in your employment of journey maps.

Clarify ownership

From the start, you need to know who will own what part of the outcome. Ownership should not be arranged afterwards. Each department must assign empowered managers to own the required changes and outcomes.

Engage your executives

Make sure that relevant executives are bought into the objectives and are engaged in the process. If the end goal is improving your customer experience, obtain commitment and a budget to do so. If management refuses to commit, you know your customer journey mapping is nothing more than a fishing expedition.

Define the scope of the project

Identify the specific processes and target what customers are to be examined as part of the journey mapping procedure. A CJM should be undertaken for every important customer segment. It may be that some of your customer segments follow the same journey, in which case you can combine them but you don’t want to have CJMs that are an amalgamation of multiple segments. You’ll end up with a bunch of generalities and less useful insights. It’s okay to have the output show one journey with different variations after you’ve examined each segment individually.

The power of a journey map is its ability to effectively illustrate the journey of a customer as they works toward achieving their goals. To do this, you need to look through the eyes of a single customer, most effectively represented by a research-based customer persona that represents a broader segment’s unique wants, needs, and objectives. Without this context, the map cannot effectively represent the relationship.

Conduct internal research

Revisit customer insights and speak with internal stakeholders the length and breadth of the business to gauge their opinions about the existing processes. Build an internal view of the relationship. Bring together a cross-functional, customer-facing group to map out their view of the journey, including touch-points, opportunities, transitions, and issues. Internally driven maps are a great step to mapping the relationship and for identifying key interactions, inputs, and outputs.

Draft your customer journey map

This draft should be a high level outline of the key stages and interactions in the customer’s journey. This can be either for an entire life-cycle of a customer (such as the multi-year journey of car ownership), or for a specific stage (a family vacation in the car).

Conduct customer research

Speak with different segments in your customer base to ensure that your CJM is accurate, does not miss out any steps and reflects the perceptions of your consumers. Without this contribution, you could make decisions based on incomplete or flawed information. Listen to their feedback to understand how they view the overall journey, validate the stages you have proposed, and find out further information about specific interactions and steps within those stages.

The best journey maps are always created based on ethnographic research, contextual interviews, and increasingly analysis of social data. With the advent of social media, a data-set now exists upon which to conduct virtual ethnography; a process is much more accessible and cost-effective than ever before. As a side note: virtual or digital ethnographies are an amazing way to  map the customer journey, uncover moments of opportunity to engage and the key drivers of engagement for content creation.

Identify those interactions and steps that should be prioritized and opportunities for improvement. Not every ‘broken’ touch-point is critical to customers. In fact, some are not important at all and customers are still satisfied without those interactions being great. Every organization has limited resources, so make sure to prioritize the proposed improvements to your customer experience so that the actions you take have impactful results.

Build the final customer journey map

Update the map to incorporate the insights that you have gathered from your customer research. This should pull together all the steps that customers go through, their emotional states throughout, identifying places that are key moments of truth where customers have a strong emotional response (either positive or negative) to what you’re doing, and highlighting opportunities to really improve.

When it comes to what it should look like, there are a lot of examples of the physical maps, but that’s not what’s important about the process. You are doing CJMs to uncover specific insights that you will use for fixing problems, wowing customers in the future, or establishing measurement tracking systems. If you focus too much on copying someone else’s CJM, then you will often miss the nuances that are key for your customers and your company. And, more importantly, you lose the institutional learning’s that come from going through the process.

A journey map is a widely shared artifact. There are dozens of ways to approach it depending on your goals, your brand, the depth of data displayed, and the breadth of the journey mapped. It should look and feel important to your organization. Use ‘your’ language and ensure it is easy for the people who need to use it to understand.

How To Use Data For Your Content

I like to think that just about every marketer out there has taken a similar approach to content marketing.

You know, the “this all looks good, do it all, see what sticks.”

I’m guilty of it—we all are, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In some aspects, experimentation is a necessary part of marketing to your audience because the text-book stuff, or what the incumbent brands are doing, might not work for you.

That also means I’ve created a lot of content that failed miserably. I recall one piece I wrote drawing comparisons between brussel sprouts and content marketing. I thought it would do amazing.

Unfortunately, it bombed and saw virtually no engagement.

We all have under-performing content in our portfolios, but some more than others. While more marketers are using content than ever before, up 2% from last year, there’s still some 65% of marketers that aren’t able to determine what content is and is not effective.

Some of the top challenges for marketers today, especially in the B2B sector, is understanding how to measure the effectiveness of their content campaigns and produce engaging content.

As painful as it might be to look at all the failed content you’ve created, if you were to plot a chart comparing it to better performing content, you would see a pretty long tail of “failure”, where the engagement ramps up to the great stuff you’ve created.

 

There’s a lot you can learn from the content that seems to fizzle, and those that begin to perform better by examining the data around that content. Specifically, that data should be used to refine your content strategy moving forward so you write less about stupid things like Brussels sprouts, and more about topics that will actually drive engagement.

Introducing Social Analytics: An Easy Way To Gather Social Media Data

Data proves the worth of your work.

Gathering that data, however, can be time-consuming.

With Social Analytics it’s easy to:

  • Measure the success of your social messages so you can easily re-share your most engaging content (and improve future messages).
  • PROVE the ROI of the work you do! The proof is in the numbers, and now you can easily prove your value to your boss/clients (and yourself). Never question the results of your hard work!
  • Understand your engagement on social media. Spot trends with your content and social networks without the time-suck—and stress. Understand what your audience likes now to act quickly!
  • Know what’s working (and what’s not). Easily see and compare your performance across all of your social networks in one convenient place.
    See Social Analytics in action:

Companies Use Data In a Lot of Ways

The data you’ll pull from your efforts provides more than topical insights. A lot of the brands succeeding with content marketing rely on their customer and engagement data to refine funnels and customer touch points, and discover the best pathways to rock their audience.

Kohls analyzes its customer engagement metrics and information to create more personalized content design to push consumers toward the checkout, and Arby’s is pulling data online to find out which channels matter most to its audience – that lets them stay in front of the most relevant audience segments.

Other insights to pull from your content performance and customer data include:

  • The best times to post and share content to reach your audience
  • Which topics matter most to them
  • How they feel about specific topics
  • Friction points making them bail before they reach content later in your funnel
  • What content formats they prefer
  • Their preferred engagement level and how long you can hold their attention
  • Costs and return
  • Impact on acquisition and customer retention

Going Beyond Revenue Tracking

Measuring the success of your content strategy goes beyond monitoring a single conversion point, because the majority of your content is not transactional in nature. No single metric can indicate success. Instead, there are a number of metrics you should be using to monitor the performance and healthy of your content strategy and individual campaigns.

1. Page or Post Views

Generally speaking, page views shouldn’t be a top priority when you’re reviewing analytics due to the fact that it’s a vanity metric. That means, by itself page views don’t really provide any kind of actionable insight for change or improvement. As a site-wide metric it’s nearly useless.

However, for your individual posts and landing pages, views are something you can use to measure success. Putting content side by side allows you to establish benchmarks for what to expect with traffic and performance.

When you perform the same kind of promotion across your campaigns, but one or more pieces of content aren’t getting views, you know there’s something to address like a headline, or the call to action that is (or at least should be) driving people to that post or landing page.

2. Unique Hits

It feels kind of pointless to spend time generating 10x content when nobody is turning up to view it. Looking at unique visits both for the content as well as your site is an indication of how well your campaigns are working to reach prospective customers in your audience.

Just remember not to put too much emphasis on the acquisition of unique visitors. While it’s a metric you should be tracking, acquisition should never be your number one priority. The behavior of the visitor, and what they do when they’re on your site, are more critical.

I would rather have 100 unique visits with 10 visitors staying engaged than 1000 unique visits with virtually no conversion.

3. Measuring Content Engagement

This is a metric I often see missed when working with clients to refine their content strategies. Many fail to review the level of engagement in their content, but the deeper your content sits in the funnel, the more important this metric is.

For example, while you want prospective leads to stay for the duration of top-of-funnel content, you absolutely want to ensure engagement stays high with content designed to assist with customer on-boarding later in the funnel – otherwise you’re going to see high rates of customer churn.

This is backed by data from Chartbeat, suggesting that prospective customers who spent at least 3 minutes viewing or reading your content will return twice as often vs those who only read for about a minute.

While your analytics provide some engagement data, this may not be the most accurate in measuring engagement. It doesn’t take into account people who open content then walk away, or how they engage your content. They may leave it open in another tab and get distracted by something else, or aim to read it later. Behaviors like that distort Time on Page metrics.

Instead, there are services like Riveted and other scripts you can use that measure actual engagement, like scrolling and clicking within the content, to provide an accurate engagement score.

Avoid relying on bounce rate as a means of measuring engagement. Just because a bounce rate is high doesn’t mean your content or calls to action are under-performing. It may just mean your audience got the answer they were looking for.

4. Return Visits

Returning Visitors is a key metric to watch, both for individual content posts as well as overall site traffic. For your content, it speaks directly to how helpful that content is. A high count of return visits means your audience is coming back time and again to refer to it. This is what you aim for with evergreen content loaded with tips, advice, and authoritative data.

For your site, it tells you that the content you’ve mapped to the buyer’s journey and your funnel is having a desired impact. HubSpot has a great example of how content can be mapped based on the sales cycle and buyer’s journey:

That top of funnel content has readers coming back for more, strengthening engagement and making them more likely to convert down the road as you build trust.

Regardless of the volume of traffic, a high return count is a good indicator that you’re doing something right.

5. Referral Sources

There are two areas to pay attention to when you’re monitoring your referral sources. When I monitor my campaigns I pay close attention to external referral sources. Not only am I watching for referral traffic that comes from guest blogging, but also to measure the performance of content promotion.

Your referral sources can also show how well-distributed content is doing. This includes places like Slideshare, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, StumbleUpon and so forth. I want to compare that traffic to other pieces on similar sites to help gauge the impact of the content as well as the effectiveness of whatever call to action I’m using for a particular campaign.

Use this to determine which distribution channels to focus on based on performance.

I also recommend monitoring in-site referrals and visitor flow. Once traffic lands on my site, it’s important to find out how that traffic moves from page to page.

Your landing pages are still part of your content strategy, and monitoring this stage in referral traffic will help identify leaks in your funnel and friction points that are causing visitors to exit.

6. Social Engagement

Not all of your content metrics live in your analytics. Since promotion is a major part of any content marketing strategy, you want to dig into your social insights for measuring the health of your campaigns.

Don’t just focus on the performance of a single piece of content and how your audience engages with it on your own social profiles. Look at current and past content, doing side by side comparisons. This will give you great insight into audience preferences, and how social engagement changes by:

  • The channel it’s promoted on, as well as other channels used by your audience
  • Type of content (article link, note, image, video, audio)
  • Headline approach
  • Content length/duration
  • Tone and approach (promotional, entertaining, educational, user-generated, etc.)

This may be easier to find on some platforms than others. Twitter and Facebook both allow you to look at your past posts at a glance and in detail to dig into performance metrics.

Lastly, be sure to search for your content by title or hashtag (if you used one specific to your campaign.) If you use a URL shortener like Bit.ly, you can also track link clicks and shares that way where your brand may not be tagged within the post.

7. Comments and Sentiment

Sentiment can be a little more of a manual process, but it’s a great way to see how your audience feels about the things you share. For a new startup, customer sentiment can be one of the best metrics for refining products and services, and shaping their strategy.

This is one of the metrics I pay the most attention to when reviewing things like guest post campaigns or off-site content distribution and social promotion. Qualitative metrics like this are a solid way to find out what your audience dislikes, enjoys, and which topics are most likely to spark discussions.

Don’t just focus on post comments, but watch the comments on social media as well. For example, when I publish new guest posts, I closely monitor and respond to comments but also watched reader response across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter where posts are shared publicly.

8. Measuring Click-Throughs and Goal Conversions

A solid strategy has content mapped to various stages of the buyer’s journey throughout your funnel, and each piece of content serves a specific purpose in the funnel. For that reason, you want to measure how click-throughs and lead attribution changes for campaigns.

Compare your click-through rates on various calls to action in your content to see how that content is helping to advance leads through your funnel. When you find bottlenecks or friction points, where click-throughs are far below your benchmark, you can examine the root cause.

Does the copy match the user intent at this stage? Is the call to action effectively communicating the value in the next step? Is there value missing at this step that made the lead lose interest?

It could be as simple as running some split tests on your calls to action, or swapping out a content or trial offer to something more relevant to your audience at that particular stage.

9. List Growth and Engagement

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on external content and your blog. Your subscriber list should be a big part of your content marketing strategy. Not only is this where the bulk of your lead nurturing takes place, it’s how you’ll stay engaged with your current customers to ensure they keep you front of mind.

Nurtured leads make up to 47% larger purchases, and sending relevant email content can drive up to 18x more revenue than generic broadcast emails. To ensure that you’re getting the right engagement, pay close attention to your open rates as well as your click-through rates.

This is particularly important with any auto-responders you have established. If the rates continue to decline over the course of your series, you need to review your approach.

When this comes up with my clients, I often look to the content itself to ensure there’s a good ratio between value based (80%) and promotional (20%) emails. Then review the actual value being provided – what is the audience getting out of the content?

Lastly, check how audiences are segmented. If you have a solid content campaign but engagement is falling you might want to consider improved list segmentation. This way you can create more targeted content to specific list segments they’re more likely to engage with.

When reviewing your email metrics, don’t get nervous when people unsubscribe-especially if there’s a lot of value in your list. In many cases, those people weren’t a good fit for your list.

10. Measuring Organic Leads

When you’re measuring the volume of leads that come in, break them down by source and pay close attention to organic leads. These are the ones that come from your content being promoted through social and distributed online.

Every lead is valuable, but the most valuable leads are the ones that come to you organically because of the low-cost of acquisition. Measure the close rates for your organic vs paid leads, and note the content that played a part in helping those organic leads close.

That data could provide insight into more top-of-funnel content to improve lead acquisition, as well as content topics that could help improve the close ratio of leads that come through paid channels.

11. Cost of Acquisition

Your paid advertising channels make it easy to determine the cost per lead based on what you’re paying per click or action. For organic, it’s a little less clear. While leads generated through organic content are reported to be over 60% cheaper than those acquired through paid methods, it doesn’t mean they’re free.

This will require some finagling with numbers since you have to calculate the cost of a content campaign relative to the value of your leads while figuring intangible costs.

I generally take into account the time I put into writing content, premium services I use like Quuu and Buffer for promotion, and other premium tools involved in the process of content production (like Buzzsumo for research.)

It’s not necessary get super-micro with overhead, like my hot mocha habit from Tim Horton’s, or the broadband costs, but it’s good to have a ballpark cost for organic leads.

12. Leads per Campaign

As your content marketing ramps up, you’re going to have content promoted and distributed through multiple channels. Pin-pointing where leads came from will help you easily determine which content is generating the highest return.

You might have a blog post with thousands of shares, and another with a few hundred. Knowing which one sent leads, and from which promoted channels, can help shape your strategy going forward.

Campaign tracking with UTM codes lets you trace those leads back to a specific piece of content. It doesn’t take much time to setup URL parameters and it makes it so much easier to determine, at a glance, which organic campaigns are kicking ass for you at any given time.

Buffer has a terrific guide I highly recommend on UTM codes and using them to measure campaign performance.

13. Content Traction and Velocity of Engagement

There’s nothing better than seeing a massive spike in traffic and engagement right after content is published. We’re not always that lucky though. For many growing businesses, you’re far more likely to see a gradual improvement as posts gain traction.

Don’t assume that because there’s minimal engagement that a post is under-performing. One study from HubSpot revealed to their team that on average, it took a few months for their blog posts to gain traction and start seeing consistent growth in traffic.

This is another point where you want to compare your traffic metrics to other similar posts and topics. If the traction doesn’t seem to be there, it might be cause for adjusting headlines, better promotion, or even repurposing the content in some other formats to reach more of your audience.

Now Power Your Content Marketing Strategy With Data

There’s plenty of metrics to draw insight from, but not all of them will be applicable to every piece of content you create. When you’re plotting out a new campaign, establish the key performance indicators and the metrics you’ll use to monitor success based on your goals. Paying attention to your campaigns according to selected metrics will make it far easier to adjust your campaigns on the fly, and optimize their performance going forward.

Webinar Platform Comparisons

One of my goals for 2017 was to incorporate webinars into my online marketing to promote some courses I have in the making. So I decided to research the different webinar software, services, and platforms that are available. In this post, I wanted to share my findings for others who are also in the process of choosing a webinar solution for their business.

Webinar Software Compared

The following are the webinar software, services, and platforms I chose to research.

  • AnyMeeting
  • ClickWebinar
  • Fuze
  • GoToWebinar
  • Join.me
  • MeetingBurner
  • WebEx
  • WebinarsOnAir (runs on Google+ Hangouts)
  • WebinarJam (runs on Google+ Hangouts)

Webinar Software Comparison Chart

Here’s what I found as far as pricing and features for each of the above webinar solutions.

Please note that while some offer specific features, they are only offered at certain pricing plans. Also, some features may be available for specific platforms but are not noted in the chart because the details were hard to find on their website.

Click the image below for a larger view. Pricing is per month unless noted.

Initial Impressions

When it comes to number of attendees versus price, you can’t beat the two services built on Google+ Hangouts – WebinarsOnAir and WebinarJam. For marketers who need a webinar solution for thousands of attendees, but don’t want to pay $280+ per month, then these are the perfect solutions. Especially WebinarJam since it’s $297 per year as opposed to per month.

For those who are a little wary about trusting their webinars to Google+ Hangouts and need a solution that handles up to 1,000 attendees, ClickWebinar is the right choice. It has similar features to GoToWebinar, but is $119 less per month. ClickWebinar also has a nifty chat translation tool that allows you to text chat during the webinar with anyone in any language.

If you want to go with the most recognized webinar solution and price is not an issue, then GoToWebinar is the right choice. I would say that 90% of the webinars I attend are on the GoToWebinar platform. GoToWebinar can be integrated with just about any other tool you use for accounting, CMS, CRM, ecommerce, email, marketing, social, and so forth through  Zapier. For example…

Your Review

If you’ve used one of the above-mentioned platforms, I’d love to hear from you! What are the pros, cons, and frustrations of each? Please note if your experience is an attendee, host, panelist, or presenter – all experiences are welcome!

Google Analytics – How Can You Use It?

Google Analytics 5 took the best features of their analytics program and made it even easier to use with new organization and visualization features. Here are nine awesome things you can do with Google Analytics 5 that will help you get the most out of your analytics information and use it to improve your website’s content, conversions, and user experience.

1. See your most important analytics data first.

If there is one (or more) pieces of data you want to see at a glance every time you login to your analytics, be sure to set it up in the Dashboards area.

You can create multiple dashboards, each of which can contain multiple widgets. To create a new dashboard, simply go under Dashboards in the menu bar of your analytics and then select New Dashboard. Then add your widgets. You can choose from widgets that show you one particular metric, a pie chart comparing metrics, a timeline of one to two metrics, or a table showing a dimension with two specific metrics. Each type of widget can also be filtered.

The best part of the dashboards is you can change the date range and see all of your widgets update with that date range’s data. This is great if you want to see an overview of your stats for traffic, goal completions, and other metrics of your choosing all in one place.

2. Find out which online campaigns bring the most traffic and conversions.

Have you been curious which of your online marketing campaigns (anything from local search to social media marketing) are the most successful in terms of bringing traffic and conversions to your website? Then it’s time to look at your advanced segments.

To create an advanced segment, click on the Advanced Segments dropdown and then the New Custom Segment. If you wanted to track traffic from local search directories, then call your custom segment Local Search Profiles and start entering the sites you have profiles on such as maps.google.com/maps/ for Google Places and yelp.com for your Yelp listing.

Once you have entered all of the domains you want to track, you can preview the segment to ensure it is pulling the right data and then save the segment. To view it, click on the Advanced Segments, check the custom segment you want to view and click apply. Now you can see all of your traffic and goal conversion data that arrives from those sources which will give you a good idea of what is working the best for your website. With the right custom segments, you can find out the ROI of your social media campaign as well as your other online marketing strategies.

3. Determine where your best visitors are located.

Have you considered using advertising via Google, Facebook, StumbleUpon, or other services? If not, it might be a daunting task to determine who you should target during your ad setups. Many of them will ask if you want to focus on a specific country or target your ad worldwide.

Thanks to Google Analytics, you don’t have fret any longer. Simply look under your Visitors menu to see the Location demographics of your visitors.

Here, you can see your worldwide stats, including the average time on site and bounce rate of visitors from particular countries. You can also drill down to particular countries and see these stats as well as your goal conversion rates in particular regions.

Now you will know the specific locations whose visitors bring you the most conversions. Targeting visitors in these locations with your ads will result in even more goal completions for your site.

4. Learn what people are searching for on your site.

Most people know how to find the keywords that bring visitors to their sites from search engines. But how would you like to go beyond that to find out what visitors are searching once they are on your site?

If your website has a search box, go ahead and perform a search to see the URL of the search results. Once you have this for your site, click on the settings wheel icon in the top right corner of your Analytics menu bar and find your Profile Settings. Under Site Search Settings, select the option to Do track Site Search and enter s as the query parameter (or the one that fits your site’s URL structure).

To see the results of this setup, go to the Content menu and the Site Search area. Under Usage, you can see what terms are being searched for, if visitors refined their search, continued browsing your site, or exited which will let you know if they are finding what they want. Under Pages, you can see which pages people are upon when they decide to use the search feature. When you click on each page, you can see what terms they searched for.

Site Search can help you determine if people are finding what they are looking for on your site. It can also give you ideas of which pages of your content need more specific information as well as the new content you can create on your site to further engage your visitors.

5. Visualize what people click on the most.

Curious where people are making the most clicks on your site? In-Page Analytics under the Content menu will pull up your website in the Analytics browser with information on the percentage of clicks that have happened on each internal link on your site.

You can hover over each link to see additional details and click through to more pages on your site to see more details. This can help you visually see what areas of your site are the most popular, and help you identify where people are clicking on your site. So if you have a particular link you want visitors to see, you should be sure to place it in the areas of your website that receive the most clicks.

6. Uncover your top content.

Want to know which pages keep your visitors on your website the longest, or have the lowest bounce rate? You can see this quickly by going under the Content menu and selecting Pages under Site Content.

This section can help you identify which pieces of content keep visitors on your site the longest and lead to them wanting to continue onto more pages on your site. This can help you produce more content that people will like in the future.

7. Identify your worst performing pages.

A few items down in the content menu from your top pages are your top exit pages. This will tell you how many people are arriving and exiting on a particular page.

This is somewhat common for blogs as people are coming to find a particular piece of information and then leave (hopefully) satisfied. But for other websites, it may signify that people are not finding what they are looking for on that page and then leaving. This may mean that you need to evaluate your site’s content to ensure that visitors are finding what they want and getting a call to action so they get where you want them to be before they leave, such as subscribing to a mailing list or purchasing a product.

You may want to consider using KISSinsights on these top exit pages to find out why people are leaving these pages.

8. Determine where people abandon the shopping cart.

Does your website have a multiple step checkout process? If so, you should setup a goal for your website using a Goal Funnel. To do so, click on the settings wheel icon and click on Goals. Create a new goal with the Goal Type of URL Destination. After you enter the basic goal details, including the final URL of the checkout process (usually a thank you for your order page), then check the Use funnel box to enter each of the URLs that correspond to the steps a visitor must take when purchasing an item.

By using this setup, you will then be able to view reports showing you when people abandon their shopping cart during their purchasing process.

If you note a particularly high amount of people who exit on the payment page, you’ll know that you need to do some work in order to make that page more shopping friendly. Or if people exit before confirming their order, you’ll know that there is something missing that is making people not want to click that final button. Fixing these issues can lead to more sales in the long run!

9. Discover if you need a mobile site.

Have you been wondering if you need a mobile version of your website? Find out by looking under the Visitors menu. There you will find a Mobile option where you can see all the way down to a specific device and the percentage of your total visits that are from a mobile device.

The key on this screen is looking at the average time on site and the bounce rate. If your average time on site is lower and the bounce rate is higher than your overall numbers, then you’ll know that you’re losing that much of your mobile traffic.

What Awesome Things Do You Learn from Google Analytics?

Now it’s your turn – what awesome things have you learned about your website from Google Analytics? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments!

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Got content?

It’s time to stop pretending that your content is achieving results because it’s AWESOME, and start listening.

First listen to the business; figure out what it needs to say, and who it needs to talk to. Listen to your intended audience, find out where they are and what they’re already talking about. The very best content campaigns are designed to move seamlessly into existing conversations, so you need to know what these conversations are before you get creative.

There are dozens of applications designed precisely for this purpose, from Radian 6 and Simply Measured, to BuzzNumbers and Sprout Social, not to mention the backend social analytics systems Facebook, Twitter and Google offer. You can track all kinds of behaviours from the number of return website visitors, to positive brand mentions online. You can measure net promoter scores, customer satisfaction rates, leads and sales, visitors, subscribers, inquiries and closed deals. Most importantly you can increasingly follow conversations to find out what people are saying, as well as knowing where they’re saying it.

It’s always worth taking the time to get to know your audience; who they are, where they are and what they’re saying. This data provides you with the base to measure your progress and evaluate your success, and empowers you develop content with a clear purpose with results you can track. If you want your content approach to stand the test of time you need to ensure it’s backed up with a strong audience-focused strategy that can be measured and reported on.

And it’s not enough anymore to talk about hits and eyeballs – if your audience isn’t engaging, your content is missing the mark.

People used to sit in front of the TV and read the newspaper when it was the only option. It was a passive kind of content consumption where people expected to be entertained, with humour, shock or excellent storytelling – but they never expected to talk back. When these same people go online they expect something slightly different; they want to be involved and informed. No one really goes online to sit back and laugh at your ad, they want to lean in, enjoy the content, and then comment or share it with others.

Traditional media is about ‘leaning back’ and passively receiving information and entertainment, new media is about ‘leaning in’ and actively engaging with content, which brings us back to the importance of listening. Content is no longer broadcast – it’s conversational and iterative – and needs to have feedback integrated into the creative process; listen, create, repeat – and you won’t go wrong.